By Catherine Owens, Director of the Center for Hope & Healing

Many people who are grieving find themselves unsure of common reactions. Who is this person who cries unexpectedly? Why can’t I think clearly enough to remember my appointments? Am I the only one who talks aloud to their deceased loved one? Why don’t I want to leave my bed? Why are simple tasks like taking a shower so difficult? These are common happenings for those experiencing grief.

At its heart, grief is a healthy response to love. Whether the relationship we had with our loved one was simple, happy, difficult, distant or close – each present with grief and the need to find a new way to be.

Navigating life without your loved one can feel overwhelming, but our experienced and credentialed counselors can collaborate with you to best understand the specific pains and support that you may need during this challenging time. A good way to start on your path to hope and healing is to become familiar with the terms of grief and mourning. While both are often used interchangeably, grief and mourning contain subtle, but important differences.

Grief refers to our thoughts and feelings on the inside and is usually our initial and private response immediately after the loss of a loved one. We feel bereaved, which means “torn apart.”

Mourning is an external response to loss. Mourning takes our internal grief and externalizes it in the form of action, symbol, ceremony or ritual that activates social support. Mourning is essential for creating movement within the state of grief. Without external mourning, grief can turn to “carried grief.”

So how do we move from grief to mourning? Funerals are one way to help us begin to mourn by externalizing our feelings. Another option is support groups. By coming together with a group of people to express your honest feelings, you will find a healthy way to release these feelings while also finding love, support, and encouragement from each other.

HopeWest grief support offers services to individuals and families who have experienced a loss whether it be through our hospice program or not. Our staff of experienced counselors and social workers collaborate with you to best understand the specific pains and support that may help you during this challenging time. Visit to learn more about the variety of grief support programs we offer.